You have to laugh. Because you'll cry your eyes out, if you don't.
Because whoever writes the script for my life loves infusing it with tragedy and comedy in equal measures, yesterday happened.
In the morning, we went for our second ultrasound. The first ultrasound had been a week prior, and showed a strong heartbeat on an embryo two weeks too small for the date I was 100% sure of, and a blood test revealed that my progesterone levels had sunk. So, those were the first warning signs...and I spent all of last week in a sort of suspended animation, just waiting. Yesterday we went back for a second ultrasound, and unfortunately there was no longer a heartbeat.
Objectively, I know that this happened for a very good reason - my body recognized that something wasn't right, that something wasn't growing right, and stopped the pregnancy before it could go any further. If this baby HAD survived, chances are good it would have been very, very sick indeed. So. Objectively.
On the other hand I cried like a little girl into Sandy's shoulder for a bit in the office after the doctor finished telling me everything that they tell you on occasions like this. But we had to move forward - I'm a big fan of experiencing something negative, working through it, and moving on. So we decided not to wait for my body to catch on to the miscarriage and take care of it normally. The doctor said I could be walking around for a month before things took their natural course, and that seemed entirely too morbid to consider. We opted for a surgical resolution, called a D&C.
After the crying in the doctor's office and the decision to move forward with the D&C - the doctor said he could do it that night, or on Friday. Feeling very bruised in the emotions, etc, I decided I wanted it done sooner rather than later. I have a terrible habit of DWELLING and if I was given 48 hours alone in my own head with the knowledge that I was carrying around a deceased baby, terrible mental things might happen to me. This is probably pretty fair, I think.
Having opted to have the surgery asap, it was scheduled for 6 p.m. The nurse that I spoke to who gave me my instructions told me to be at the emergency room around 3. I thought it was a bit odd that I was to go to the emergency room, so I repeated it. She said "Yup, they'll process you and check you out and do all the preliminaries and then send you up to surgery."
So around 3 Sandy brought me into the emergency room. He had to leave almost immediately though, to return to work. It's his busy season. But the surgery wasn't scheduled til 6, and he said he'd be back as soon as he possibly could. I got checked in, was handed a gown and told that since the emergency room was CRAZY busy at that moment, I should change in a bathroom, pee in a cup, pour that into a tube, (?), and then sit on this rolling bed right here in the hallway next to the bathroom until someone could deal with me.
I did as instructed until we came to the tube portion - there were no tubes of any sort in the bathroom. There was an empty cardboard container looking thing in the bathroom with lots of holes in it that looked like it was used to carry test tubes though, so I had a fair idea of what I SHOULD have done, I was just not able to do it. I came out of the bathroom therefore, holding a plastic bag full of my clothing in one hand, and the cup in the other. Urg. I waited for a bit because I know there's nothing worse than someone who disturbs important emergency care folk when they are doing important emergency care things. After all, I wasn't in any discomfort and there were certainly folks there way worse off than I was. But after a half hour I decided maybe I should approach someone. So I visited the nurses' station and asked what I should do with the sample, in the absence of tubes of any sort. She found a tube for me. I returned to my hallway bed, now clutching a sealed tube of my own urine. The situation had certainly improved, but not by any significant amount.
Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that my sense of the absurd is pretty highly developed. The situation I was currently in, despite its utter pathos, was RIDICULOUS. Which meant that anyone passing me on my bed saw a woman in a dressing gown (which she had carefully wrapped and tied to cover nearly everything and also vaguely resemble a Diane Von Furstenberg gown - I hope she forgives me for making the comparison), sitting on a rolling cot, clutching a tube of her own urine in one hand, and GRINNING.
I'm sure I made an impression.
After a pretty lengthy interval someone came to my cot and checked my last name with me. I said, "yes, that's me" - she told me I wasn't supposed to be there. I grinned at her. Of COURSE I was in the wrong place. *sigh* I was supposed to have gone straight up to same day surgery. She told me to sit tight for a second. She left. A male nurse arrived to usher me up to first floor registration, first asking me if I'd like to change back into my clothes. I laughed. "I'm just going to have to take them off again later. So no thanks. I don't mind." He got me a second gown to wear from back to front, so I'd be fully covered, (Diane Von Furstenberg notwithstanding), and walked me through the waiting area, the snack bar, and the gift shop, to the elevator banks.
Let me remind you. At this point I was a woman, grinning oddly, clutching a tube of her own urine in one hand, and a see-through plastic bag full of her clothing in the other, wrapped in two hospital gowns. And I was being frog-marched through all the public areas of the hospital. Amazing.
We rode the elevator up to registration, where he left me in the care of a woman who sat down and took my insurance information, etc. She also took pity on me, and got me a biohazard plastic bag for my test tube. Then she told me to go back to the elevator bank, and up to the fourth floor. I did this, now being a woman wearing two hospital gowns, with a biohazard bag with a test tube of urine in it in one hand, and a plastic bag with all her clothes in the other.
I got out of the elevator on the fourth floor, and saw absolutely NO indications of where I should be next. I saw a waiting room, and went in. It was full of strangers in their street clothes, clearly waiting for loved ones to get out of surgery. It was distinctly lacking in other people who looked as insane as I did. I asked if anyone had any idea where I should be. A woman piped up with, "Not in here..."
So after some searching, I managed to find a nurses' station again, and turned myself over to them, utterly exhausted by everything that had happened, and pretty close to an emotional breakdown. Although my sense of humor was still intact, it was getting crackly at the edges.
One nurse got me a locker and I put all of my things away, while another took my test tube. I was a little sorry to see it go - we'd been together for so long we were like old friends. Another then asked me, a little brusquely, "So you saw Dr. _____ this morning? What did he tell you?"
And I stared at her, and my brain went *poink!* and my hormones surged, and the next thing I knew I was positively bawling while choking out, "he told me my baby was dead."
That poor nurse. She never saw it coming. As I rammed a fist into my pie hole to try and regain some composure, she said, "no sweetheart I'm sorry, I meant what did he tell you to do when you got here?" So I told them what I'd been told to do, and how I had attempted to do it. And she said she wondered if he had wanted me evaluated by the doctors down in the ER. And I was thinking to myself the only doctor who ought to be evaluating me at the moment was a psychiatrist. Anyway, they got me tucked into a bed, and then they made the critical error of being nice to me, which resulted in further and additional and actually much WORSE sobbing. In between body-wrenching hysterics, I attempted to apologize for being a total lunatic at them. Seeing nothing else for it, two of the nurses, (after carefully asking permission), just hugged it out with me. Then they left me alone, and I eventually calmed myself down by repeating all of the bits of Shakespeare's plays that I could remember to myself in my head - Hamlet's Soliloquy, The What's in a Name bit from Romeo and Juliet...and of course Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.
We all have our coping mechanisms, okay? Literature is mine.
The rest is pretty unremarkable. Lots of consent forms signed, lots of medical history repeated aloud. My anesthesiologist was foreign, and his accent was completely and utterly inaccessible. I had NO idea what he was saying to me. I could tell my bafflement was frustrating for him, and I felt badly - I know I don't speak ANY of his language, (something middle eastern), so how dare I judge how he spoke mine?! He was replaced by a shorter, also foreign but with more recognizable English, anesthesiologist. Then the doctor arrived, and I went through more consent forms. Then my smiling anesthesiologist showed up again to shoot something into my IV to "relax me" before we went into the surgical suite. I was rolled down the hallways, and into the suite. I stared up at the large silver heat-reflecting disks on the ceiling, and then looked over at the surgical table and said "Do you guys want me to get up onto that?" and that's the last thing I remember.
"Relax me." Hah.
I woke up in a recovery room with "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon playing in a tinny loop on the speakers. I woke up literally telling the nurse at the foot of my bed about how when I was 15 I left home and went to work for a summer as an au pair and the father of the little boy I was taking care of used to call me Al (for Pacino from ScarFace), because I had a really bad cut across one cheek that summer. She told me I should switch to a better dream.
Horrifyingly, this made it obvious to me, even in my muzzy state of awareness, that I had been talking for some time without any control over what I'd been saying, or, even worse, any MEMORY.
Oh god oh god oh god. That poor nurse.
And apart from describing the awfulness of the cramps that the pitocin they had given me were causing, (which I won't), or the after care with Sandy and the nice nurse who gave me soup and crackers and a ginger ale and helped me figure out how my legs worked again, (very important stuff), there isn't much to tell.
I was pregnant for 9 weeks. The embryo only ever grew to 6.3 week's size. So. We cry. We talk. We heal. We try again.
Thank you to all of you who sent congratulations and all the others who after hearing the bad news sent your concern and affection. It means a lot. I'm sorry if I don't respond to all of you individually - it's been a pretty rough 24 hours, (as you now know), and I'm tired, physically, mentally and emotionally. So if you don't hear from me, please know I have read every note, message, IM, email, and text, and they've all touched me.
Sandy and I are both going to be okay.